Early next year AT&T will shut down its 3G wireless network, meaning certain old cell phones won’t be able to send or receive calls or messages.
The network will stop working in February. While new phones and GCI customers shouldn’t be affected, residents that use AT&T and have devices older, for example, than the iPhone 6 will need to upgrade to a newer phone.
“Customers have received, and will receive additional communications as we work with them on this transition, including direct mail, bill messages, emails and SMS message notifications,” AT&T spokesperson Lesley Merritt wrote in an emailed statement to the CVN. The statement said AT&T is phasing out 3G to “help free up spectrum to better accommodate next generation technologies and services.”
A complete list of phone models that will work without 3G can be found on AT&T’s website. Some subscribers might be eligible for a free upgrade.
“If they get the text message that says they have a 3G phone, it’s important that they call 611 and follow the instructions. If they have a 3G phone (when 3G service ends), it will stop working,” said RadioShack owner Patty Campbell. “If they need a phone they can come in and purchase one, but it might not be the exact price or exact phone that their cell phone provider is offering.”
Campbell emphasized that residents who are unsure if they have a 3G phone should call 611 or contact their providers.
GCI is not planning to phase out its 3G network next year, according to spokesperson Josh Edge. “We’re not expecting the AT&T shutdown to have any impact on us or (our) subscribers,” he said.
Haines’ fastest network currently is 4G LTE, but there are plans to build a $300,000 5G cell tower that would be leased by Verizon Wireless and would expand service out Lutak Road. Five-gigabyte networks have capacity for higher speed downloads than 4G and 3G networks and can accommodate more devices at once.
AT&T launched its 4G LTE network in Haines in 2016 and expanded it in 2018.
T Mobile, Sprint and Verizon also plan to shut down their 3G networks in 2022 but later in the year.